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Finance panel approves UB 2020 bill

 

By JOHN DELLACONTRADA
    Published: May 28, 2009

The Finance Committee of the New York State Senate yesterday unanimously approved the UB 2020 Flexibility and Economic Growth Act, moving the bill another step closer to passage.

The bill next goes to a full Senate vote before moving on to the state Assembly for consideration.

President John B. Simpson thanked Senate Finance Chair Carl Kruger and Sens. William Stachowski, Antoine Thompson, George Maziarz and Dale Volker for their leadership and support of the bill.

"We now look forward to a vote on the bill by the entire Senate in the very near future," Simpson said. "The Senate's continued support of this bill brings UB one step closer to fulfilling our ambitious goals for UB 2020: to build a great public research university that is the catalyst for a thriving knowledge-based economy in our region."

Stachowski said the bill provides a sensible and immediate way for UB to achieve its UB 2020 plan—without cost to the taxpayers.

"The UB 2020 Flexibility and Economic Growth Act is the type of high-impact, no-cost legislation Western New York needs to move forward with economic development strategies that only can be provided by a major research university like UB," he said.

Among the reforms proposed by the bill, UB would be allowed to implement a rational tuition policy whereby the university retains revenues from small increases in tuition. UB will devote as much as 20 percent of the additional tuition revenue exclusively to students in need, in addition to financial aid provided by existing proportional TAP funding.

"The bill will help improve educational access for economically disadvantaged students while also allowing UB to pursue its goal to be an even larger economic engine for the region," Stachowski noted.

The bill also would provide UB with flexibility in spending and contracting, access to capital markets and the ability to lease and purchase land and facilities. These reforms would give UB the financial flexibility needed to pursue growth strategies commonly used by other large research universities nationwide.

Achieving UB 2020 is projected to increase UB's economic impact on Western New York from $1.7 billion to $3.6 billion annually and create well over 10,000 jobs in a variety of sectors—in information technology, maintenance/custodial/trade, clerical, faculty and professional administration, and technical and research support.

More than 30 of the state's most prominent and influential business, labor, community and university groups support the UB 2020 initiative as the region's best strategy for economic development and regional job creation.

Supporting the UB 2020 efforts are the Buffalo Building and Construction Trades Council, Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Amherst Chamber of Commerce, the City of Buffalo, Erie County, Town of Amherst, United Autoworkers, Kaleida Health, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the Board of Block Clubs, United Way, Oishei Foundation, the UB undergraduate Student Association, UB Faculty Senate and UB Parent Association.

-UB Reporter